The Weather Dependent Renewables industry has deluded itself, its Green [political] supporters and defrauded the public at large, by not admitting to the detrimental impact of the massive capacity and thus performance / cost differentials between Weather Dependent Renewables and reliable fossil fuel or nuclear power generation.
It is often asserted that Weather Dependent Renewables are now competitive, without subsidies, with traditional electricity generation technologies. The massive UK Renewables installations, (33.7 GW), might surpass conventional generation on rare moments with a combination of appropriate weather and demand conditions.
But in its announcements the Renewables industry conveniently forgets the capacity / load factor differences with traditional generation mean that overall Renewables only produce about 1/10 – 1/4 of their stated Name Plate output values.
Capacity factors calculate the actual power output of a generation technology divided by the nameplate value of the installation, thus assessing its generating efficacy.
The UK in 2017 had Renewable Energy installations:
- Solar Power nameplate 12.7 GW: capacity 9.6%: producing 1.22 GW
- Wind Power nameplate 19.0 GW: capacity 19.6%: producing 3.72 GW
- Biomass Drax nameplate 2.04 GW: capacity 82.1% dispatchable: producing 1.67 GW
- Total Renewables nameplate 33.7 GW: combined capacity 19.8%: producing 6.67 GW contribution to the grid overall in 2017.
Because of both these poor capacity factors and their unreliability, the business case for Weather Dependent Renewables is not viable without the massive subsidy support. This means that those essential additional costs are charged to electric power consumers and advantageous business environments for Renewables are imposed by Government mandates.
Overall Weather Dependent Renewable technologies in Wind and Solar PV in combination are about 8-9 times more costly in overnight capital costs and about 10 times more costly in terms of long-term running costs than using Gas-firing for generation, even when including the cost of fuel.
Certainly Onshore wind power is the least costly Renewable technology. But in spite of its higher performance capacity percentage ~30+% Offshore Wind Power is probably the most costly overall. Even when the significant reduction of the manufacturing costs of the solar panels themselves is taken into account Solar PV is still very expensive in comparison to Onshore Wind power and even Nuclear power, when compared long-term.
These analyses do not take account of the intrinsic
of output from Weather Dependent Renewables which make the power they produce much less useful and much more expensive to utilise.
Their poor cost performance is compounded by the further major disadvantage that Weather Dependent Renewables are unpredictably unrelated and unrelatable to demand. In adverse environments, particularly Offshore, Renewables often fail well before their anticipated service life.
In 2017 the UK was responsible for only 1.2% of Global CO2 emissions.
Any useful impact that that UK can have by controlling its own CO2 emissions to limit Man-made temperature rise can therefore only ever be marginal to non-existent in effect. This is especially so in the context where all other developing and developed Nations, (except the USA), are increasing their use of Coal and other fossil fuels and thus continue to increase their output of CO2 substantially, thus totally failing to respect to the Paris Climate Accord.
This post examines the performance of all types of UK electrical Generation systems over a period from 1 January 2017 to 31 August 2018. It relies on the data provided by Gridwatch templar:
The Gridwatch data is provided at 5 minute intervals for each generation type. This data (172,800 entries) for the 20 months has been condensed to some 14500 hourly values and reorganised as the following generation classes:
- interconnect: net cumulation from French, Dutch and Irish inter-connectors
- gas-fired ccgt
- pumped+hydro: the combination of hydroelectric and pumped storage generation
- biomass: primarily generation from the DRAX generators now converted to burn wood pellets shipped from the USA
- wind: onshore and offshore combined
- solar PV: on grid Solar energy
Cost data used is from the US Energy Information Administration who publish comparable costings for different electricity generation technologies:
The pie charts above give the proportional contribution of different generation technologies to the UK grid for the 20 month 2017 – 2018-8 period. The second chart shows the actual generating installation where Renewables amount to ~35 Gigawatts or ~56% of the total generation installation: were those generators fully productive 35 GW would exceed UK demand on many occasions.
The chart shows the name plate value of the Renewable installations but it does not assess the usefulness of those contributions are in terms of the timing and variability of their power output.
There is no economic, large scale mechanism so far, (save a minimal amount of UK pumped storage), for storing power when power it not useable and thus it is wasted. The fact is that solar power peaks at midday and is non-existent at night and that Wind power can be becalmed at any time on a unpredictable basis means that contributions of these Weather Dependent Renewables are much less valuable to the grid than base load power from Nuclear or Coal-fired sources and the variable power from Gas-firing is intrinsically more useful to support the consistency of the Grid.
Unlike other Western nations, the UK has made legally binding commitments to decarbonisation as a result of the 2008 Climate Change Act. This Act gives the UK much less flexibility to react to the coming failure of its electricity grid, caused by the replacement of reliable base load power from Coal-firing and Nuclear with the installation of an increasing proportion of unreliable, non-dispatchable, intermittent Weather Dependent Renewables.
The following sections and graphics dissect the output of various technologies based on hourly information for 2017 and 8 months of 2018. These results apply to the whole of the UK and include the output from Offshore wind farms. Even so on occasions the universal absence of wind production for considerable periods, (26 consecutive days in the summer of 2018), gives the lie to the idea that the wind is always blowing somewhere.
Technologies Generating CO2 emissions
The use of Weather Dependent Renewables is predicated on the assumption that extra Man-made CO2 is the sole control knob on global temperature and climate, and that trying to reduce man-made CO2 emissions is worthwhile.
But from a current value of ~400 ppmv only 13% of the effectiveness of CO2 as a Greenhouse gas remains.
The current value of 400 ppmv is only twice the value at which photosynthesis stops and the world as a whole dies. Any extra atmospheric CO2 can only be a benefit to the biosphere and thus man-kind. About 1200 ppmv is value used by horticulturalists to artificially enhance greenhouse plant productivity, any value below that is in effect limiting plant life and diminishing plant productivity. Any marginal amount of warming that may result from the extra atmospheric CO2 can only be beneficial to the planet by providing more access to viable farmland. To quote Will Happer:
CO2 is not a pollutant, but a benefit to the world and will remain so until current low CO2 levels are restored to something closer to the norms of geological history, the optimum levels for most plants. That is three or four times more the current levels. It will take many centuries to reach such levels, even if enough resources of fossil fuels can be found.
However it seems more likely that the long-term climate context is now one of global cooling as we move towards the end of our current benign Holocene interglacial period. For the last three millennia each one has been progressively colder since 1000BC.
So regarding any extra CO2 as a control knob on temperature and as a pollutant is particularly fatuous.
It should also be noted here that the promotion of Biomass as being beneficial, which when burnt produces about 4 times the amount of CO2 than Fracked Gas simultaneously negates all the potential CO2 emissions savings possibly achievable by the use of Weather Dependent Renewables.
The largest contribution to electricity generation in the UK is from Gas-firing, about 42% over the 20 month period. This Gas is largely imported and thus costly to the balance of payments. As and when Fracking is permitted and productive in the UK that Gas should be fully supplied from indigenous sources. Fracking has been opposed by the UK Green movement and they delayed its beneficial introduction on a wide scale. The use of dispatchable Gas-fired electricity is essential to provide consistent end user supply in the context the preferred use, (by Government policy), of intermittent and variable Weather Dependent Renewables.
The fact that the use of Gas-firing produces a minimum amount of CO2 emissions has been well proven in the USA, where the use of Fracked gas for electricity generation has substantially reduced the total CO2 output by replacing coal for generation. More CO2 emissions reduction has been achieved in the USA than by all the other Green induced policies elsewhere world-wide. This has amounted to about 1.4 billion tonnes of CO2 reduction over the past 10 years or a reduction of about 4.5 tonnes/head Nation wide. Whereas by 2017, CO2 emissions were increasing worldwide.
The electrical generation from “biomass” in the UK about 5% of total electrical supply is primarily the output of the Drax power site. With very substantial subsidies and because the EU / UK Governments erroneously regards Biomass burning as “Renewable”, this major UK power generation site has been converted and is subsidised to burn wood pellets. These are imported, at a cost to the UK balance of payments, from the East coast of the USA, where clear felling of virgin forest, with resulting natural habitat loss, is continuing apace to meet this demand. The combined processes of felling, pelletisation, sea transport, and wood burning immediately releases substantially more CO2 per unit of power generated than even the burning of Coal at Drax. On the other hand the recovery of the American forests will take at least a century.
As Drax itself is by design located on very large existing Coal reserves, the burning of wood pellets, transported from across the Atlantic, would seem to be a fatuous mechanism to control climate change, as it produces substantially more CO2.
Using Biomass is less efficient than coal and releases about 4 times as much CO2 as burning Fracked gas. This adverse ratio does not include the additional CO2 costs of sea transport from the USA to Drax.
The following graphic gives an idea of the comparative costs in terms of CO2 emissions of using Biomass as fuel at Drax as opposed to Gas-firing or locally sourced Coal.
Coal – firing
In spite of Government policy for their closure, some Coal-fired power stations are still open in the UK and provided more than 6% of UK power over this 20 month period. This power is dispatchable and its base load can compensate for the intermittency and unreliability of Weather Dependent Renewables, even though its control is less agile than Gas-firing. Coal firing over this period has been mostly used to supplement generation in winter periods.
In total Renewable installations amount to a name plate generating capacity of close to the average UK demand of ~35,000 Megawatts, but in fact because of their limited capacity its combined output is only equivalent to 6,670 Megawatts.
The combined production of “Renewables” is shown above. Although the installed Renewables may in rare unique weather conditions almost meet UK demand, (which is much celebrated by the Renewables industry), the combined picture over these past 20 months is shown below.
The UK in 2017 had Renewable Energy installations:
- Solar Power nameplate 12.7 GW: capacity 9.6%
- Wind Power nameplate 19.0 GW: capacity 19.6%
- Biomass Drax nameplate 2.04 GW: capacity 82.1% dispatchable: output 1.67GW
- Total Renewables nameplate 33.7 GW: combined capacity 19.8%: output 6.67GW
Unsurprisingly Solar shows substantially greater performance in summertime and particularly in the output during the recent summer of 2018. Summertime is the period with the lowest demand for power.
However overall Solar energy has a capacity factor for the period of 9.96%: that means an actual output equivalent to 1,270 Megawatts as opposed to the Solar installed name plate value of 12,760 Megawatts. Unfortunately Solar energy is not produced when it is needed: it is virtually absent in winter months and it always peaks at whatever level at midday, but demand is highest in the evenings, especially winter evenings.
The contrast between winter and summer output from Weather Dependent Renewables is shown below. There are periods of low Wind power output in both Winter and Summer.
The chart below shows the profile of supply from Weather Dependent Renewables in July 2018. The variability of Wind power is clear and there is a period that July of some 25 days when Wind Power was meeting demand in the range from 10% to 0% from its total installed configuration of 19,000 Megawatts.
The extended fine weather of last summer 2018 showed a very substantial periods of wind drought in the June and July.
There was rather more wind output in the summer of 2017 but even so it was quite variable for that period as well.
Wind power, even including the more productive Offshore wind farms, is inevitably variable according to the weather. Wind power is certainly it is more productive in the winter months but anti-cyclonic conditions can arise with low wind output widely across the whole UK in Winter as well.
The problem for the grid posed by Solar PV power is also well illustrated above. There are massive load changes throughout the day from 25% of demand to nil at night. At the end of the month the diagram also shows how susceptible Solar Energy is to adverse weather, its peak output dropping by 2/3 on a cloudy day.
The combined UK Wind energy, (Onshore and Offshore), had a capacity factor for this 20 month period of 19.57%: that means an actual output equivalent to 3,718 Megawatts overall as opposed to the Wind power from an installed name plate value of 19,000 Megawatts. Unfortunately Wind energy is randomly intermittent and it is not necessarily produced when it is needed. Therefore the wind energy output cannot be dispatched to meet demand: as it is uncontrollable it is intrinsically less useful and thus less valuable: on occasions the production stands a high likelihood of being wasted. In the 2 month period shown above wind power capacity was less than half the overall average
Also included under Renewables are combined Hydro and Pumped storage and Biomass, (see earlier).
Hydro electricity and pumped storage
The topography off the UK means that very little Hydro electricity generation is possible except in restricted parts of Scotland and Wales. The few pumped storage schemes can make a very limited contribution to balancing out the variable output of the installed base of “Renewable” installations. Hydro electricity is dispatchable but overall only accounted for ~2% of production. Production is also inevitably limited in drier summer months.
Nuclear Energy and Interconnections
Indigenous Nuclear energy (~10,000 Megawatts) still supplies almost a quarter of all the power in the UK. As these plants are reaching the end of their service lives, their replacement for base load provision is progressively becoming more essential to avoid grid failure. But the idea that they could be replaced with unreliable Renewables is illogical.
The French interconnector has a capacity of 2,000 Megawatts and the Dutch interconnector has a capacity of 1,000 Megawatts. On many occasions throughout this 20 month period these have both been fully employed.
Interconnectors from France and the Netherlands even in the low demand summer season are still providing a very substantial proportion of UK base load power, (~6% in the 20 month period considered). This power contribution is mainly from French Nuclear generation.
This implies that about 1/3 of total UK power is presently provided by Nuclear energy, either locally or from the continent.
It should not be assumed that power imports are inevitably available, they are not necessarily guaranteed. French government policy has been to reduce its Nuclear generation by about 1/3 to 50% of French generation, however the Green oriented minister in the Macron government has recently resigned, because he has failed to get the idea of reducing Nuclear power accepted. Nonetheless if France requires that remaining power to service its domestic needs, its power will not be available for export. As it seems to be Government policy to impede further development this crucial Nuclear base load power source, the UK is facing a substantial future supply crisis in power generation.
Interconnectors are vulnerable. In late 2016 the French interconnector was damaged by a dragged anchor in a storm. This reduced its capacity by half to 1,000 Megawatts and lead to a drop of UK electricity operating margin to as low as 1%. Full service was not resumed for about 4 months. In winter the low operating margin that resulted amounted to an existential emergency for the UK power grid for that period.
The UK also exports some power, this is mainly to support the Irish grid which has a heavy commitment to Weather Dependent Renewables.
The US Energy Information Administration publish comparable costings for different electricity generation technologies:
The EIA values have been translated and condensed into the following table giving consistent comparative values in terms of $:€billion/Gigawatt.
This table uses the following assumptions:
- capital costs are assessed as the EIA overnight capital cost standard for newly installed generation technologies
- the long-term costs are assessed over 60 years, the approximate service life of a nuclear generator
- the Euro and US$ have approximately the same purchasing power
- the long-term costs are dependent on the the achievable service-life of different generator types and therefore full cost of replacement over the 60 years
- published EIA costs are assumed for variable costs including fuel and ongoing fixed maintenance costs
- the actual cost per Gigawatt generated and supplied to the grid is dependent on the capacity factors achieved, with non dispatchable technologies ie Weather Dependent Renewables these are low compared to conventional generation technologies. The outcome is that the true costs / Gigawatt supplied to the grid by Renewables can be extraordinarily high
- these values do not reflect any of the difficulties arising from using Weather Dependent Renewables to provide a consistent power supply of their:
The following diagram gives an indication in percentage terms of the effects of capacity and capital and long-term costings.
- Weather Dependent Renewables produce about 25% contribution to the grid but even at current, 2017, installation levels involve 55% of the installation and capital costs and require more like 65% of the long-term costs
- for Solar energy to produce 3.9% of the power mix requires some 20% + of the installation and would be responsible for 20% of the long-term costs
- for Offshore wind to produce 6.0% of the power generation mix requires some 10%+ of the installation and would be responsible for 25%+ of the capital and long-term costs
- for Onshore wind to produce 9.6% of the power generation mix requires some 20%+ of the installation and would be responsible for 14.5% of the long-term costs
- Gas-fired CCGT to produce 40%+ of the power generation mix requires some 24% + of the installation and would only be responsible for 10% of the long-term costs
- UK Nuclear to produce 21%+ of the power generation mix requires some 13% + of the installation costs and would be responsible for 18% of the long-term costs
The following diagram puts actual values to the same chart:
- installed Renewables in total amount to a Name plate value of ~35 Gigawatts or ~56% of UK generation. 35 gigawatts exceeds total UK demand on many occasions.
- the UK electrical grid would be more stable and cheaper too run without the “Renewables Obligation” that, by policy, ensures that Renewable energy has to be used whenever it may be available.
- using Gas-fried power at full capacity is more cost effective and produces less CO2 emissions than insisting that it works intermittently load following Renewables and in spinning reserve to be instantly available whenever needed.
- Wind power and Solar PV power are not carbon neutral, (they require more CO2 emitted for their manufacture and installation than they can ever save during their service life)
- likewise the EROI, (Energy Return on Energy invested), of Wind power and Solar PV power is less than neutral. They are thus entirely dependent on fossil fuels based energy for their very existence.
- the UK use of Biomass is costly for the balance of payments and in subsidies. It produces substantially more CO2 that either Coal-firing with locally sourced coal or Gas-firing, which with the success of Fracking will be eventually be supplied indigenously in the UK.
- because of the dilute nature of the energy captured, the use of biofuels, unless exclusively derived from real waste materials, is both costly and damaging to the environment, for other examples beyond clear felling native forest in the USA:
- the use of 40% of the USA corn crop to create bioethanol
- the clearance of tropical forests to grow palm oil.
- the UK dependence on European interconnectors can pose an existential risk to the UK power grid as well as a burden on the balance of payments.
- because of their low capacity factors and unreliability, the use of Weather Dependent Renewables are a substantially more costly forms of electrical generation than using conventional fossil fuels particularly Gas or even Nuclear energy in the long run.
- overall the late Professor David Mackay said it all: ie that by ignoring simple arithmetic, the use of Renewable energy to try to power a developed country is an
“there is no point in having wind power or solar power in the UK”
A fascinating analysis, but the government departments are full of revolving door NGO’s who keep the agenda running.
(Love the typo “Gas-fried power”)
The radical greens advocate spending $100 Trillion on
Massively unsustainable RE: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/07/05/monumental-unsustainable-environmental-impacts/
Anthony made a brief mention for the Case for the Good Reactor https://spark.adobe.com/page/1nzbgqE9xtUZF/
$100 trillion would pay for about 4000 ITERs, NIFs or LFTRs. What are the odds that not a single one of four thousand such reactor designs would work? Only one has to work, and the problem is solved.
Please don’t speak acronym. What do all those abbreviations stand for?
And that was only one!! Seriously, Anthony, a major and very welcome and useful analysis like this one must be properly proof-read or it hands the cynics an excuse to dismiss it on a plate.
This wasn’t so much typos as an author who changed tack or phraseology half way through a paragraph and never went back to check.
What an old editor of mine would call “mucky copy”!
Good article, though.
Aah, the old “one small error throws the entire article in doubt” smear job.
Especially, in an era of mistyped tweets, news articles and even alleged scientific research.
That a no-name attempts to diminish an excellent article by extreme nit picks, trivial opinion and a rush to judge.
A) Zero reference to the facts clearly displayed above.
B) Zero respect for the extreme hard work performed by volunteers.
C) An immense level of disrespect towards the work of volunteers.
D) No-name didn’t offer to pay for professional “Proof-read”.
E) “Dismiss it on a plate” allusion based on what? Personal opinion? Personal expertise? Inability to shut up?
F) Didn’t identify any incorrect facts. Not one. Making your comment pure trollop envy.
What smear job? It was just a friendly heads-up, like pointing out you’re flying low or have untied shoelaces.
Mucky copy never seemed to worry the Grauniad in the old days, and readers had to pay good money for that level of service. They were backed by a full editorial team.
Such sniping is entirely unnecessary.
Totally agree with Newminister, and I can’t understand why or the way his comment is being attacked. One can’t give alarmists any excuse to dismiss evidence against their cult, especially considering all the hard work that obviously went into gathering and calculating all this info.
+1 for you and for Newminster. Great article too, for all that. I particularly liked the 10,000 year temperature chart, something I have often wondered about but never seen quite so clearly.
The problem is the government was lied to. If wind and solar were running at full capacity that 10x cost over coal/nuclear would be largely eroded.
Of course the utter foolishness of putting solar in the UK when Spain has plenty of useless arid land, and a LOT of sunshine is staggering. But that is the EU for you, fundamentally defunct.
The EU fundament is not defunct but rather in fine form, showering sh1# across it’s members and voicing the opinions of the idiots that run it.
Definition of fundament – a person’s buttocks or anus
Having a lot of sunshine means not much – it peaks at midday (asuming no clouds) and is gone by evening, when demand often peaks.
This is the point.
I have a holiday home in Spain, and in the summer, the house is warmer inside in the evening than it is around midday. This means that solar cannot even supply summer aircon, since aircon is used the most during the evening and during the night for sleeping.
I am not working but even not working, I do not use much aircon before about 8 pm.
the UK is very cloudy, and peak energy demand is about 6pm on a winter’s night when solar produces no energy. What engineer would design a system where peak deman coincides with least efficiency.
Thank you Kent.
Solar works office hours but the Sydney Metropolitan Railway System runs for 22/24.
I’d love to see the economics of how solar could provide the electricity to run it.
There is much talk about “investing” in solar and wind but the reality is that we are subsidising them to produce an unreliable source of electricity which has led to increasing electricity costs and the closure of coal generation which could keep the grid stable without installing batteries.
Be careful for what you wish for and remember that your car battery has to be replaced about every 5 years and the lead is easily recyclable but lithium batteries are not.
Time for Wa
That’s OK, the bureaucrats in Brussels have declared Spain to be the main collector of fallen rain (since it falls mainly on the plain).
How do you ever get wind and solar to always run at full capacity?
Hundreds of thousands of trained hummingbirds and fireflies, maybe? :S
Spain has high taxes on installing solar panels. Not sure if I remember right, but think you are taxed for installed capacity. Iberdrola is not a frequent swing door lobbyist. They have insiders guarding their environmentally unfriendly position. If not penalised by tax, solar panels + batteries may be an option sometimes. But when you have 32-34 deg C or more in the shadow you need quite some energy to cool down some rooms in a house or flat. Spain/Iberdrola is a recurring subject at WUWT.
An excellent essay, full of rational & logical thought. The UK is doomed under current lunatic eco-policies, our only possible salvation may just be good ol’ Sol, currently in slow/shut down mode, & with a few cold blasts over the next few winters some sanity may prevail, although I won’t bank on it just yet!
It is probably too late with the planning lead time for building baseload generation capacity for UK to avoid brown outs and rolling blackouts for industrial customers if not voting domestic customers. Even as thousands of people are dying of cold (as they do now in the UK in cold winters), the ‘greens’ will be zealously protesting against any new power generation capacity that isn’t wind, solar or tidal.
As another Briton I agree with Alan, this is an exceptional piece of work, many congratulations to Ed Hoskins. Ian W the green blob seems to have kiboshed small nuclear including excellent proposals from Rolls Royce amongst others. With luck that stupidity at least will not stand.
Just pray that the penny drops in time for a radical Government to insist on keeping some surviving c-f capacity operating beyond 2025.
For the short term, I passed the Ratcliffe Alps recently and stocks are looking in good shape for the onset of winter.
You can tell people in government that renewables are costly but they do not want to know .
Politicians think that the wind blows and it is free and the sun shines and it is free .
It is extremely hard to get through there heads that all renewables need back up when they are unable to generate electricity .
Solar and wind can work in countries where there is a large amount of hydro as hydro plants can be remotely turned on and off when needed to take up the load when the clouds block the sun and the wind stops blowing.
Politicians and others just cannot see that gas fired plants that are only fired up when required are a very expensive way to generate power as the grid capacity is duplicated and power price to consumers has to rise in countries were this happens to cover the expense of building and maintaining these underused generators.
Hydro dams are anti-fish, and therefore must be torn down. That this takes water away from agriculture and increases the risk of flooding is a sacrifice, by the little people, that our betters are prepared to make.
Who cares about the fish that are in the hydro basins? Canada gets 25% of its total energy consumption from hydro which in the long run is the cheapest and most reliable of energy sources.
The reason why people in the UK don’t complain much about the high cost of renewables is that the subsidy for wind/solar energy comes from general taxation, and even though we seem to be paying a lot for our energy, what we pay represents a substantial discount. If we paid the true cost for our energy something might happen……..
In other words, they split the cost into two bills and hope you don’t put two and two together.
so its even worse than we thought! Renewables are a complete fail for an modern economy.
The term ‘not fit for purpose’ says it best.
Great article with a lot of data. There is one aspect not mentioned in the report, but commented often here at WUWT, and that is the wildlife destruction of wind and some solar installations. That’s right, our brothers and sisters, the birds and bats, are chopped up due to flying around these large wind generators. Everyone with an interest in this renewables issue, not matter from which side, should stand underneath one of the giant wind generators and watch for birds to be chopped up. This is the only industry I know of that gets a pass with respect to wildlife destruction. Snail darters can stop dam construction but renewables have a free pass to chop them up!
It appears that the bats are meeting their doom because they are attracted to the red (aircraft warning) lights attached to ‘most every windmill..
How can this be, teachers don’t lie; Edna Krabappel herself told us all that ‘bats are blind’
Then she proceeded to tell us all about ‘trapped heat’
Nothing to go wrong there then.
There’s a People Eating Tasty Animals branch in Newark?
Actually doing math, with honest numbers, seems to be something greens are incapable of doing. Or the greens do know perfectly well their proposals are unworkable, and want a crash.
It’s not a bug, its’s a feature?
Quite possibly, but all the Greens I have known have been utterly innumerate, to the point where they had difficulties adding up a restaurant bill.
Engineering departments all over the place are climbing on the renewable energy bandwagon. Here’s a seminar title that says it all:
So, the renewable energy isn’t available when it’s needed. There’s lots of surplus available when it isn’t needed. I’m guessing that the policy barriers they talk about involve subsidies of one sort or another.
Some folks actually do acknowledge the problems of renewable energy.
Actually, what they are really getting with Consumer Demand Profile is costly (to the consumer) load-shedding, especially industrial loads. Load-shedding is actually used in developing “Resource Plans” by government-regulated utilities. The actual costs to the consumer are ignored or under-valued.
Storage is what the participants are talking about when they get on the topic of Surplus Zero-Emission Electricity. Except for pumped-hydro, there are currently no feasible large-scale storage technologies. Banking on specific future technological advances is foolhardy. We know that technology generally improves with time, but we don’t know exactly how or where.
Of course they want a crash, Russia, China, & India would love for what’s left of the democratic West to collapse!
The conclusions agree with my viewpoints, but the grammar and spelling?
“But the grammar and spelling?”
Give the guy a break – how many hours do you suppose he spent putting this post together? Unlike most of the speling & gramar misteaks I read (on a daily basis) he’s not getting paid to right this stuff! I’ve seen far worse in official government documents. As for “The Meeja” – don’t get me started on the howlers THEY come up with…
Other than UK English spelling, I found very few spelling mistakes. Since there are UK/GB authors on this site I didn’t even notice them till I ran a spell check to see where all of the spelling mistakes were. As far as Grammar, I Have also come to accept “Engineering” English.
Do you mean that the grammar and spelling don’t agree with your viewpoint? That doesn’t make much sense to me. Perhaps you could be a little more careful with the construction of your sentences.
Given that hurricane Florence has left many without power I would like some professional idea of what the situation would have been like had the Carolina’s been relying solely on renewable’s like solar and wind for however long the hurricane will drift over that area?
Fortunately South CArolina has virtually no renewable capacity. It is mostly nuclear (55-60%)
Hurricane Florence barely touched South Caolina – very few lost power – right now only 17,000
customers without power. I live at Myrtle Beach – Florences ws a big nothingburger around here, something that you wil never hear on the Weather Channel, which only provides shots against the worst backdrops. That company is just plain corrupt.
For some reason, a lot of people seem to have a hard time understanding the points being made here. People trust the views of advocates without thinking it through themselves, and parroting whatever they think sounds smart. Politicians chase their votes and companies sell whatever the government is willing to buy.
I claim that my wind car is “competitive” in cost, but some days it just won’t start. You’ll have to get to work another way. How much are you willing to pay for a car that you need another car as a backup? Whatever is the cost of the wind car, you need to add the cost of owning another car and compare that to the cost of just having the other car. And if you want to own only wind cars, I’ll need to sell you more than two of them for the days that neither one starts.
The key metric is the ratio between the nameplate capacity and the actual usable generated amount. That has to referenced, proven, and demonstrated because that’s where the concept will be attacked.
I thought this was a very good point (among many in the article):
From the article: “More CO2 emissions reduction has been achieved in the USA than by all the other Green induced policies elsewhere world-wide. This has amounted to about 1.4 billion tonnes of CO2 reduction over the past 10 years or a reduction of about 4.5 tonnes/head Nation wide. Whereas by 2017, CO2 emissions were increasing worldwide.”
The CAGW fraud has caused politicians and others to lose their minds worldwide. Any clear-thinking person can see that windmills and commercial solar are just expensive boondoggles which not only won’t do what is desired, but will cause enormous economic problems, which will hit the poorest people in the world the worst.
It’s time to stop doubling down on stupid and realize that windmills and solar are a deadend when it comes to supplying the electrical grid with reliable power.
It’s just stunning to watch these misinformed politicians taking actions that will bankrupt their own countries. All because they have bought into the CAGW lie (or they are just authoritarians using the lie for their own political purposes).
Meanwhile, President Trump’s policies have reduced U.S. CO2 production, and the U.S. economy is booming.
Agreed, an excellent essay. And an equally excellent comment from Alan the Brit September 17, 2018 at 3:33
“An excellent essay, full of rational & logical thought. The UK is doomed under current lunatic eco-policies …”
A brilliant study that shows the utter futility & waste of Renwables.
It does not of course include Maintenance, which for offshore is going to be a considerable expense.
Unfortunately it is pretty much wasted here as Ed is singing to the choir, we all know what an absolute waste of cash it is and how much more could be achieved for real world problems.
The Globalists do not want to know as they are literaly making Trillions out of the biggest Scam in the history of man.
An absolutely damning piece. It highlights the complete stupidity of politicians everywhere(with the exception of Donald Trump), whose responsibility it is to ensure that our power supplies are reliable, and cheap. This sort of fact-based argument is irrefutable, and deserves a wider airing, because it blows the greens out of the water!
Thank you for using Gridwatch data brilliantly, in exactly the way it was intended.
Top marks for including David Mackays interview too.
As a long term user (for my own interests) of data I’d like thank you for maintaining Grid watch and the French grid watch data.
Do you want to argue with these hard facts?
Maybe he hasn’t been triggered yet? I’ll try by posting some trigger words — Trump, sea-ice, polar bears, what about the children?, racism, sexism, conspiracy….
The added costs of renewables boils down to their need for backup , reliable capacity, which means that your system has a lot more redundant capacity than a reliable system. That duplicative capacity costs money – about the only savings when power is supplied by renewables are the fuel savings, but in baseload generators like coal and nuclear, you don’t even realize that.
Another factor that will be increasingly relevant in the coming years is the absolute commitment by all UK parties to the replacement of ICE powered vehicles by electric transport.
I tried to estimate what that would mean for the power grid on a working day, starting with the statement from the author that 35GW is a typical UK power demand.
Assuming that 35GW is a mean during 24 hours of a working day , the daily energy requirement during week days is
24 x 35 = 840GWhrs.
The average power rating of a family saloon is 70kW (94bhp) . The working population of the UK is about 25million , possibly up to 10 million commute by car (a guess) , other family members use the cars for school runs , shopping , leisure , etc. And then many cars , vans, lorries are part of the service industry which is UK’s lifeblood .
So I have guesstimated 30 million on-road hours in a working day.
So total energy requirement in 1 day to maintain a 100% electric fleet would be 70 x 30 million kWhrs
This is 2100 GWhrs , compared to 840GWhrs from the existing power generators .
840 is , in principle , available from the present renewables gamut of generation . We would have to triple that , at least to cater for complete conversion to electric transport .
This seems so ridiculous (given that capacity factors add another factor of at least 2) that I must have made a mistake. Please tell me that I have, because if I have not then our leaders are insane and the future for the UK and my chidren and grandchildren is rather bleak.
Mike: Your back-of-the-envelope estimate of a 3 times multiple to the existing power supply for full EV use is bang on with other (allegedly rigorous) estimates I’ve seen.
And it doesn’t include replacement of fossil fuel use in home – workplace -public building heating, long-distance trucking or (heaven help us) air transportation.
The crunch is coming in the not too distant future.
I did an analysis based on existing consumption of energy with some adjustments made for better efficiency of electric motors and came up with 300GWe tops – that about 6 times existing UK grid capacity, and more likely around half that – three times,. given energy saving and some renewables where they make sense – e.g. heat pumps from warm summer ground to heat cold winter homes etc.
A lot depends on how we solve the transport issue – batteries don’t cut the mustard, nor theoretically do they look like they ever will.
But its likely to be a long slow roll out. We will not know the end point when we start that process.
Who put the ‘k’ in hydraulic fracturing? You are giving in to the leftie environmental commies for a start.
From an old oil hand.
“Who put the ‘k’ in hydraulic fracturing? You are giving in to the leftie environmental commies for a start.
From an old oil hand.”
You’re fighting a losing battle. Might as well rail against those who say “optics” when they’re referring to how a situation looks. It’s idiotic, but they don’t seem to care.
From an old guy who prospected from the jungles of Borneo to the tidal flats of Bangladesh
they call it ‘Fracin’ the hole’
“Instead of pumping Nitrogen they pump CO2 (not carbon)”.
It is akin to the battle about “ocean acidification” and making the oceans “more acidic.”
Or less alkaline, as I like to think of it.
A good study, thank you Ed Hoskins.
My co-authors and I published in 2002 as follows:
“Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – THE ALLEGED WARMING CRISIS DOES NOT EXIST.”
We also correctly predicted the failure of most green energy schemes, as follows:
“The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – THE WASTEFUL, INEFFICIENT ENERGY SOLUTIONS PROPOSED BY KYOTO ADVOCATES SIMPLY CANNOT REPLACE FOSSIL FUELS.”
DEBATE ON THE KYOTO ACCORD
PEGG, reprinted in edited form at their request by several other professional journals, THE GLOBE AND MAIL and LA PRESSE in translation, by Baliunas, Patterson and MacRae.
Told you so, 16 years ago.
Regards, Allan MacRae, P.Eng.
SEE E.On Netz excellent Wind Report 2005 at
See E.On Netz excellent Wind Report 2005 at
Especially see Fig. 6 & 7 re intermittency.
Told you so, 16 years ago.
It seems to take a generation of ‘we know better’ before the actual truth emerges.
is a paper that showed back in 2007 that nuclear was way better than renewables for GHG reduction.
Good attempt to place honest, real costs and values on all sources of energy AND reliability. It is offensive and tragic that customers are not told of the real costs of “green” energy AND the risks of reducing reliability and availability of electric service.
Aren’t there also high additional costs of integrating intermittent energy into the transmission and distribution systems. As I recall, the most expensive capital and operating costs per kW (at the T or D peaks) for a utility were in those systems. Random insertion of home generators and solar / wind systems changes the equipment needed for protection and communications, the methods for repairs and upgrades, and costs. Does anyone know of studies in those additional costs?
I worked with residential, commercial and industrial customers…most of which were sensitive to price, but had no experience with outages. That has and will change.
from the East coast of the USA, where clear felling of virgin forest
Uh, no. There is practically no virgin forest left in the east US, other than a few, extremely isolated areas. In fact, the wood is being harvested from dedicated wood “farms”, which are common in the SE US. Mostly loblolly pines are planted on these farms. Clear-cutting is the standard harvesting practice — replanting & subsequent growth occurs quickly.
My thought exactly. The East coast virgin forests we all gone by the late 1800’s. Apparently the author got this idea from a website he referenced called “theecologist.org”, which after reading the reference, seems to be the entirely made up from someone’s imagination.
Ditto…may as well throw some baby seals on the Drax fire too. When I read that stupid nonsense about east coast virgin forests being used at Drax, my eyes just roll and think the rest of the article is probably propaganda too. And then complaining about C02 emissions from ships transporting the biomass across the ocean. At least Drax has a 82% capacity factor, compared to 9% for solar PV at 52+ degrees north latitude. Why all this propaganda here at WUWT with wood pellets, the vast majority of which are made from wood waste (bark and sawdust) from operational wood processing facilities (wood waste) that used to go up in smoke in bee hive burners? Its too bad more coal burning facilities around the planet weren’t saved by mixing in more wood pellets with coal. Other than that, a well researched and informative post about renewables on the grid in the UK.
It is a fact that the fastest way to accrete biomass is from swamp type plants like poplar alder and willow, not that these burn well mind you.
When is someone going to harness the 33c of back radiation 24/7.
Why bother with direct solar its too weak, just harvest its reflection or re-emission.
Dam$’t man you’ve hit the nail right on the head! We just set up a second series of solar panels (Or is that solar pals) to catch the reflected light of the first set! Voila, now you twice the amount of… ah umm , ah , okay nothing.
Thanks Micheal, easy innit.
See you just put long wave infrared panels in yuge greenhouses see.
They way they mop up all the trapped lwir heat, plus you can grow tomatos aswell see,……
And if you put big tubs of water in the greenhouse, well they batteries storing loads of potential lwir innit, so 24/7 lwir heat saturation even when your tomatos are asleep.
And then the Thermo2 taxman comes in the door and ruins all your fun.
Thank you so much for the huge amount of work you have put into this comprehensive account of our energy generation and the foolish application of green policies.
” … Unlike other Western nations, the UK has made legally binding commitments to decarbonisation as a result of the 2008 Climate Change Act. …”
We applaud your commitment to 11th century subsistence farming and candles. De-carbonising could be tricky though, given food and candles are made out of carbon, it should be quite interesting to see how that’s going to be solved.
Given the problems outlined above, just imagine what the next 10 years will look like under the green politicians.
Good stuff Ed.
The trouble is that WE know all this, but the ones who make the decisions are often doing so on ideological and political-not rational- grounds. Which is not to say there is no place in the energy mix for renewables, but for them to come of age we need to find a way to cost effectively store surplus renewable energy, so it can be used when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.
No, tonyb. Even with storage, renewables will still be at least two to three times too expensive.
Even with storage, you still need back up power.
There are times when it is cloudy for days, or the wind doesn’t blow for weeks.
There’s no way you will ever build enough “storage” to handle those situations, and even if you could build the storage, there’s no way you could afford to build enough excess wind/solar to charge up that much storage.
I am not disputing the comment from either dave or mark, but whether we like it or not renewables will figure large in the plans of many western governments. so we need to make it as practical and as cost effective as we can
That’s like saying we need the least wet water we can find.
So it turns out that the ‘skeptics’ have been right all along and it didn’t take any special modeling to arrive at the proper conclusion. And it’s also just a conspiracy theory that CAGW is a means to redistribute the wealth and has nothing to do with temperature and politicians and the MSM aren’t complicit in continuing this scam.
There is a bit of bother with ‘the government’s stated aim of making the UK a low-carbon economy.’
Amazed that it’s theguardian that’s reporting this!
Fear and guilt have been forces constraining many other religions in the past.
The big Green club has proved too powerful an agenda enforcer for our masters to put away.
What is your source for capacity factors versus actual power supplied ? As I get into disputes or conversations on twitter and would need to back up an assertion that wind only provides 20% instead of the 37% other twitterati posit.
The capacity factors were calculated using the Actual Generation versus the Plated Capacity.
This is a sore point.
There are two sources of ‘what wind actually produces’
There is what the National Grid measures from the biggest and most efficient windfarms and there is what the renewable industry says it has generated.
THEY claim 30-45% CF. the numbers on the ground show 20-30% CF..
“The costs and fallibility of UK Weather Dependent Renewables 2017 – 2018 . . .”
Another outstanding, accurate, truthful essay/article applicable for every nation where this deliberate insanity is occurring. Can’t be said any better. What the web is about. And what keeps its censor puppeteers awake at nights. HT to Ed Hoskins, Anthony Watts, WUWT
Any utility providing electricity will tell you that the cost of the “Fuel” is nowhere near the top of their cost cactors. For most, it is near the bottom. The biggest drivers of cost are, TAXES, Distribution, Employees and their benefits, Maintenance, and especially for electrical generation Capacity Factor. [Not all inclusive or in order of magnitude.] The last, Capacity Factor, is important. A good friend was a manager at a Nuclear power plant that got shut down. He took a plant manager position at a coal fired power plant. He quickly noticed that the capacity factor for the plant he managed was well below 50%. He implemented a maintenance and preventive maintenance program very similar to the program at NPPs. Within six months the CP went up to over 80%. It was not long till he was made the Station manager, in charge of three coal fired units. Why, you may ask? Because three power plants operating at 35% CP employ the same number of people as three power plants operating at 90 – 95%. In essence before the maintenance program was implemented the company had three plants producing the power of what ONE properly operating and maintained plant produced. An increase of just 10 megawatts power per month is millions of more dollars. He increased output by hundreds of megawatts per day per power plant!
All the hype in the Media keeps telling people how many home the Wind Farm, Solar Farm will provide and use Nameplate Data for that exaggerated claim. To power those homes would actually take five times that many solar farms or Wind Farms. And that only works if there’s a way to store the power available when not used AND extra plants to create this power just so you can BOTH provide and store power.
The next big money hog is TAXES. Approximately 40% of the price per kWh you see in your bill is TAXES. Worse yet, most states with sales taxes also collect taxes on the price of electricity adding another 7.5% to that cost. Why does that matter? Because the property taxes will be based upon the fact that they need 5 to 10 times as many wind farms and/or solar farms to provide that power and that means 5 to 10 times the property taxes that the utility pay and in turn, YOU get to pay.
Then there is maintenance, Solar and Wind has a 10 to 15 year life time. That means they get replaced about every 10 years and require high maintenance to even achieve that. Then you, the customer, buys the utility another wind farm or solar farm. The utility I work for has plants that were built before I was born – 11 years ago. they have plants that were built before my father was born and they are all still running. Look at the famous wind turbines in california that are rusting and rotting away and NO ONE is even salvaging or decommissioning them. They are just rotting in place. Who is going to pay for that? How is that good environmentalism? But we are now collecting straws.
Should be ” 77 years ago.
I liked 11 years. It gave me laugh and I thought you were saying it is so obvious even a kid could understand.
@ Ed oiskins.
Do you have an URL for these numbers ?
The UK in 2017 had Renewable Energy installations:
Solar Power nameplate 12.7 GW: capacity 9.6%: producing 1.22 GW
Wind Power nameplate 19.0 GW: capacity 19.6%: producing 3.72 GW
Biomass Drax nameplate 2.04 GW: capacity 82.1% dispatchable: producing 1.67 GW
Total Renewables nameplate 33.7 GW: combined capacity 19.8%: producing 6.67 GW contribution to the grid overall in 2017.
Somebody please check my math. Using the final 3 tables and some quick envelope scribbling, I see the following:
UK current mix produces ~33.9 GW per year at a cost of ~669 billion Euros, when the long term capital, fuel, and generation costs are figured and real achieved capacity is considered.
The same electricity could be produced for 151 billion Euros by Gas-fired CCGT, or 221 billion Euros if 80%/20% gas/nuclear. Therefore, every year the UK is spending 518 billion (or 448 billion) Euros more than necessary for electricity.
Nobody would pay half a trillion euros every year for nothing, so this cost must produce great “value.” What do we get for the price? For the price, the UK is getting more intermittent, variable, and unreliable weather-dependent power generation. And also for the price, UK citizens can feel pride in not changing CO2 emissions, nor effecting any change whatsoever in global temperatures.
Every other compelling need for public expenditure must have already been met in this wealthy Kingdom!
uptick uptick uptick
Another way to put this is that to provide 30GW or so on average would require about six times that in nameplate capacity. When you start to look at the cost of that and the amount of land it would take up, it starts to become ridiculous.
The SNP in Scotland are absolutely sold on the idea of wind energy. A while back they asked for consultations and I submitted something along the lines of this article, complete with detailed references. A good few other people submitted similar analyses. They refused to even consider them, instead basing their policy on a Green Party publication which read like an advertisement for wind energy.
I really worry about the fact that we seem to have people in government who can’t tell the difference between a report with references and an advert with hype.
Westminster, by comparison, are becoming much more sceptical of renewable energy claims. They are now looking for any new contracts to meet the claims made for the product in terms of dispatched energy, rather than being paid for all output whether used or not. That is the way it should be; if the vendors are telling the truth about the performance of their products then everybody wins, if not then the vendors bear the cost.
Bottom line is that even if climate change is an impending disaster, ineffectual remedial measures will not fix that. All they will do is to waste money that could have been more wisely spent.
What an unmitigated mess. It might well make sense IF there were empirical (hard) evidence (not models), proving the claims that CO2 is a ‘pollutant’ & the primary driver of so clamed global warming were true, but there isn’t!
Surely a superior Energy policy for not only the UK but all developed economies would be to;
1. Follow America’s lead & withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord – NOW!
2. Terminate all Renewable Emissions Targets (RETs) & proposed Clean Energy Targets (CETs) & instead, introduce a 100% Reliable Energy Target!
3. Cancel all Federal subsidies – be they for Renewable Energy and/or fossil fuel generation. No favourites! A level playing field!
4. Specify a 100% Quality of Service (QOS) standard (force majeure accepted) applicable to ALL energy suppliers to ensure reliability of supply for an ESSENTIAL SERVICE & establish/impose substantial financial penalties for those energy suppliers who fail to meet minimum QOS standards ie; perform or perish!
5. Revisit wholesale pricing, common to ALL energy suppliers, designed to provide a fair & reasonable Return on Investment (ROI) that meets forecast daily demand (as forecast by respective local energy agencies) throughout the 24hour day.
6. Where applicable (eg; Australia) remove the ban on the use of nuclear energy to enable energy providers to make their own decisions as to the commercial merits (or otherwise) of developing a nuclear industry in transparent, open competition with ALL established energy sources.
7. Advocate construction of coal-fired or nuclear power stations for future base load power supported by all other of energy generation options (ie Wind, Solar, Bio, Hydro, Gas, pedal power or what ever! who cares – leave the choice of supply & its commercial viability ENTIRELY up to the electricity generators). Despite claims to the contrary, the CO2 emitted by coal-fired power stations is neither dirty nor a pollutant – it’s plant food!
8. Where applicable, repeal any Federal Govt legislation making it mandatory to utilize any form of energy in preference to another (eg the ‘Unreliables’ of wind or solar v’s fossil fuel) generation.
9. Should these principles not be attractive to the power generation industry, tough – just re-nationalise it.
If these energy policies were adopted, first world economies would not need the plethora of parasitic Govt bureaucracies that burden their respective countries. Just one, to ensure an adequate ROI is provided for the generators & penalties applied for any failure to meet predetermined QOS.
Developed economies would then have a future (as they once did) as world-class, least cost energy providers, essential if they are to compete on the global stage.
And there would not be any adverse impact upon the world’s climate!!
Electrical energy is a service, not a commodity.
If it is available when it is not needed it is worthless.
You cannot put it on a ship and sell it elsewhere.
If it is not available when you do need it, it is a total failure.
The battery idea is silly. If the battery is not charged it is useless. To keep it charged requires massive excess capacity. If you want a 10 day reserve, you need 10x generation capacity to charge it on a good day or you cannot guarantee full charge at all times. With solar , you really need a six month reserve.
Facing the economic challenge and uncertainty of Brexit (independence from the FrancoGerman empire that has ruled Britain with loathing and contempt) Britain needs overpriced intermittent and unreliable energy supply like it needs a hole in the head.